The octopus is one of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. Even though scientists are understanding more and more about them, they never cease to amaze us. From their shape-shifting abilities for camouflage to their ability to unscrew a jar to get at food inside without being trained to do so is just plain incredible. Human interactions with octopuses in the wild come across as astonishing for something so alien to us.
Octopuses have been amazing researchers for many years as the creatures repeatedly confounded the humans with their intelligence and cunning. From escaping from aquarium tanks to hunt for food in other tanks to being able to unscrew the tops of jars to get in or out. They have been noted as boarding fishing boats and into the holds in search of a good meal.
The veined octopus has demonstrated the use of tools by collecting coconut shells and using them for what could be termed as a suit of armor. These octopuses have been observed carrying the shells with them and then hiding themselves inside or underneath when threatened. It is the first known evidence of an invertebrate animal using a tool and it is an amazing defense mechanism. Check it out:
Over the past decade or so scientists have been trying to understand how the creatures are able to distinguish and remember individual humans. This definitely appears to be true based on the experience of some people.
This amazing video (below) shows a couple being approached by an octopus that they had rescued the day before To them the animal seems to be thanking them for their kindness and compassion, and it hung out with them for over an hour. They have decided to never eat octopus again based on this experience.
One of the people commenting on this video said that when he was growing up on an island an octopus had approached him on the beach, "hugged" him, and then they played together for hours. Researchers have observed octopuses engaging in play activities.
In another video (below) you will see the amazing rescue of a small octopus that appears to be dried out and dead at first. It is hard to distinguish it from a lump of sand. After it "blossoms" back to life the little animal approaches its rescuer and reaches out a couple of tentacles in a gesture that seems to clearly demonstrate gratitude.
This is not behavior that is passed down from octopus parents to their offspring. Octopuses have little if any contact with their parents after birth. While they have been showed to be able to learn to do things in the laboratory, their behavior in the wild is what really demonstrates their critical thinking skills.
When you consider that the octopus, a cephalopod , is basically a head (brain) with legs, some of this is not completely surprising. They have a complicated brain and nervous system, as well as excellent eyesight.
I get the feeling that training an octopus is something like training a cat. When they deign to do it they are just humoring us because they know we are pathetic and stupid.
Images via YouTube